Thursday, July 28, 2011

Aviation in America: How to Spoil a Good Reputation

Sometimes being a mom helps me make sense of the world, because even when the world isn’t sensible, it at least is familiar. Take, for example, spoiled children. We’ve all seen these children, pitching a fit at the grocery store because mommy and daddy won’t purchase that tempting something on display in the check out line. (Not, my kids of course.) 

This is the image that comes to mind when I read about America’s budget impasse between Democrats and Republicans.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flight Attendants Flying High and on TV Too

Photo courtesy ABC
Am I the only one who has circled September 25 on the calendar? That would be the day that ABC's new show Pan Am begins. I know I'm not alone in my excitement about a Hollywood recreation of this golden age of aviation. 

Just the other day while trying to get a photo of the famous Emirates flight attendants for a story I am writing for The New York Times, I asked them, not a one of whom was American, "Do you know that scene from Catch Me If You Can?" and without having to explain that I was talking about the 2002 movie in which Leonardo DiCaprio strides through JFK in the company of a bevy of beautiful stewardesses, they all nodded "of course".

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pilots versus Pilots - Years of Waiting in TWA Lawsuit

What's the difference between a pilot and a jet engine? 
The engine stops whining when the plane is parked at the gate.

Just because airline pilots are prone to complain, doesn't mean that sometimes they don't have a legitimate beef.  When it comes to the merger of American Airlines and TWA 10 years ago, a federal jury has determined that the TWA pilots were indeed done wrong by their union, the Air Line Pilots Association.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Appetite for Air Travel and All the Rest

How much travel is too much?
A while ago we owned a cat. A very hungry cat it turned out to be. She should have been a Labrador Retriever, so obsessed was this critter with food. 

Having heard that cats were self-regulating animals, my husband decided one day to give her as much cat food as she wanted until she stopped eating on her own. He wanted to gauge just how big her appetite was. Frankly I don’t remember how much she ate. This was Jim’s curiosity at work, not mine. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Of Aviation Pioneers Old and New

Museum of Transportation and Technology Auckland
You don't have to believe that Richard Pearse was the first man on earth to fly a powered-aircraft though there's sufficient evidence to at least make a debate worthwhile. It is enough to know that in the days before the internet - that would be the spring prior to the flight of the Wright Brothers in December 1903 - and sixteen-thousand plus miles away from Kitty Hawk, a Kiwi inventor was working successfully on the same concept. Once I realized that, the rest of what I learned about New Zealand started to make sense.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bangkok - An Airport Hub to Love

Even not-so-frequent air travelers know about the hub and spoke system by now - the technique airlines use to funnel passengers through large central transfer points and on to their destinations. This gives people the opportunity to be in - but not necessarily to get out and enjoy such destinations as Frankfurt, Chicago, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and London.  

Recently, while traveling on Emirates from New Zealand to Dubai  I realized my flight stopped in Bangkok so I decided to get off the plane, spend a day seeing the city and continue my journey to the UAE a day later.

Narita's Jet Lag Cafe
I stumbled on the concept of a quick city visit in October 2010 when my sister and I were in Japan for the annual ISASI conference which was being held in Sapporo. In an abundance of caution, Lee scheduled us to fly from Sapporo to Narita the day before our flight back to the United States. “Lee,” I whined, what are we going to do in Narita for 24 hours?”